You Can Be Rainbow Pretty – Even While Traveling

Something came up on my facebook memory feed from 2 years ago, when my son was 4 (because, you know, facebook cares about you and your memories):

“A little beauty advice from (my son) this morning. He asked what I was IMG_3933doing, while I was putting on my make-up. I told him I was trying to get pretty so we could go. He mumbled something about “rainbow pretty”. I asked if he was saying I am rainbow pretty or I had more work to do. He said I had more work to do. I asked, ‘What do I need to do to be rainbow pretty?’ He said, “Put on make-up and drink water andIMG_5471 clean your ears.” A little tip from me to you.”

Sadly, I need a lot more work than that.  I wouldn’t say I’m a total girly-girl, but I don’t feel like myself if I don’t take a shower and do my make-up, even if I’m not going anywhere.  I’ve tried not doing it, and I just feel poopy all day.

file2341249315498When I’m traveling, I need all of my stuff.  The heavy suitcase drives my husband crazy – but it would be worse on him if I didn’t have all my stuff and was in a bad mood the whole trip.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to travel frequently for work.  After not having everything I needed a couple of times, I developed a checklist.  I recently shared a kids’ travel checklist that I developed from that.  Some people seemed to like it.  I no longer travel for work, so I adapted a list for myself for vacations.  I even use it for weekend trips.  I purposely used a Word document, so you can edit it for your own needs.  I hope you find it helpful.

Travel Checklist For Women

I Have Zero Letters Left . . . Zero! (Blogging Tips from a Newbie)

Back in May,  I challenged myself to write something about each letter of metal-617959_1280the alphabet. You can read more about that here A is for Alphabet.  A brief recap – I did not commit to writing every day, and I was free to depart from the challenge temporarily or permanently.  The idea was to keep the creativity going, and stretch myself a bit.

I am now on Z.  The challenge worked out really well for me, even if it did make for some kind of weird titles at times.  Good thing I don’t mind weird.

I enjoyed going back and skimming my post about starting the challenge.  It reminded me of what my kids were up to 3 months ago.  They are so entertaining!  My daughter has started saying something new.  Do you ever wonder where your kid got a saying or some mannerism, and then you find yourself doing it.  Guess it came from me!  Oops!

Instead of saying “no” or “none” my daughter now says “zero!”  Here’s an example.  My daughter, son and I often lie in my son’s bed while I sing them songs, we pray, sometimes I tell stories, to get calmed down to go to sleep.  A few times, my daughter has complained, “I have zero pillows!  ZERO!”  They both like to repeat for effect.  They amuse me so.  I’ve started noticing adults at work saying “zero” in the same way at times . . . I’m guessing I must say it too.

I have a short list of things to write about, but I may go back to a similar challenge at some point.  I found that it did force me to be creative and gave me ideas when I may have been drawing a blank on what to write about next.

This seemed like a good time to review some things I’ve learned in the five short months I’ve been blogging.

In the beginning, I worried about using other people’s photos, so I took all of my own.  For some posts, this is necessary.  But, it can be time consuming, and sometimes I just couldn’t come up with anything that would work (I also don’t have the best camera, so that can make things difficult).  I learned there are quite a few sites with free stock photos.  I regularly use two:  pixabay and morguefile.  Pixabay seems to have more to choose from, but I find morguefile to be a little quirkier, which I like.   I also signed up for free images to download from Ivorymix.

While I am not drawing enough traffic to reach the thresholds for pay-out yet, placing some ads on my blog was a natural step after a couple of months.  I had a hard time getting my ad spots placed correctly.  After a couple of attempts, I was finally successful with the plug-in AdSense Integration WP QUADS.  I was able to use the same plug-in when I placed a non-AdSense ad with Mobileadhub (if you consider placing an ad with Mobileadhub, let me know.  I can get a referral bonus!).

Bigger is not necessarily better with blogging groups.  I belonged to a very large facebook blogging group, and I have a lot of positive to say about it.  I did connect with some great people.  But, I generally joined the threads for comments.  While it’s great to get feedback on posts, and it’s really satisfying to receive encouragement, it simply was not helping me to grow my blog.  I decided it was time to start my own blogging group (Blogger Network).  I am trying to do things that will actually get blogs out there to non-bloggers.  Don’t get me wrong, bloggers are people too (and some of them are amazing people).  But, unless a person is marketing blogging products/services, most of us want our audience to reach farther (or is it further?  That’s a grammatical lesson that has not stuck with me!).

As hard as it was, I realized I was going to have to let real people in my life know I was blogging.  It’s kind of like singing in front of people you know for the first time (if you sing).  It’s very scary, but once you do it, it’s very freeing.

social-1157114_1920Facebook is great (probably the king of blogging promotion) and a great “meeting” place for bloggers.  But, other social media like twitter and pinterest are probably more effective in getting your stuff out to a wider audience.  Collaboration with other bloggers is essential with these avenues.  Something I am still learning about.

My traffic is still not where I want it, but the times when it’s dipped from low to almost non-existent have forced me out of my comfort zone to try some new things. For me, personal growth is what it’s all about (oh- and providing inspiration and making money.  Bwah- ha-ha).

 

 

You Can Get a Second Dog, but Should You? Part 2

Duke the Goldendoodle. 

Continued from Part 1, Zoey the Boxer.

It was September 2014.  We had been in our new house for about a year and a half.  Zoey was approaching her sixth birthday.  I had just started a new job and things were feeling more settled (I had been working for straight commission the previous year).

I say I don’t like drama and chaos, but maybe there is a part of me that does.  I just couldn’t leave things the way they were.  One night, I got a wild hair, and decided Zoey really needed a friend.  I started researching the best time to get a second dog, and read that you should wait until your first dog is 5.  Check.   You should get a dog of the opposite sex.  No problem.  It’s a good idea to get dogs about the same size.  Okay.

I had heard that pretty much anything mixed with a poodle was a good choice.  They are smart, and generally don’t shed.  I looked at several dogs, but I didn’t want to have one sent from far away because I was seeing a lot of posts that appeared to be scams, and I wasn’t sure what was involved with that.  This was an impulsive decision, and I guess, not wanting to give myself a chance to change my mind, I searched until I found a puppy that was available right now, relatively nearby.

My husband was an easy sell on the idea.  We found a Goldendoodle puppy, ready to be placed, about 90 minutes away.  I researched Goldendoodles.  Good with kids.  Don’t shed (usually).  Grow to 40 to 55 lbs. (although, it’s hard to predict as it is a mixed breed, and largely depends on the size of the poodle).

Charlie and Duke

As you can see, he was the cutest little puppy, and of course, the kids were very excited.  After throwing around some names, we settled on Duke.

He didn’t whine at night all that much, and potty training was not too terrible.  There was another dog to demonstrate.  He would follow me around, and even lie on the hard, cold tile floor of the laundry room to be around me.  He seemed like a dream.

Duke

Zoey was intrigued by Duke, and it seemed they would be great friends.

Duke and Zoey
The beginning of a beautiful friendship?

As Duke grew though, he became naughtier and naughtier.  He chewed absolutely everything.  I heard a noise one evening and found him chewing the wall!  He chewed a hole in my carpet (new house!), chewed up woodwork and furniture.  He also became a bully to Zoey, and put holes in many of the kids’ clothes.  He grew to 70 lbs.!  Much more than I bargained for!

The dogs fought constantly.  The barking drove me insane.  I started asking myself why I had wanted this dog.  I usually pray about big decisions.  Had I prayed about it?  Nope.  Don’t think so.  My dream puppy was turning into a nightmare.

A few months later, my brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, the day before his 47th birthday.  It has been the hardest thing I have ever been through.  On the days I was feeling particularly upset and worried, Zoey would come and lick my face non-stop.  She was my favorite of the two dogs, and I made it no secret.  I felt guilty for subjecting her to this bully puppy, and I loved her for the love she showed me.

When my brother’s health took a turn for the worse, Zoey lay on the floor on my side of the bed every night.  Something she had not done before.

My brother passed away in October 2015, and it was a terrible time.  It was around then that Zoey started peeing in the house.  Something, she had not done since she became potty trained.  Obviously, I had other things on my mind, so we didn’t do anything about it immediately.  We thought maybe she had a bladder infection, so my husband took her to the vet.  They did not detect a bladder infection, but she was very anemic.  The vet was concerned.  She was given some medication, which seemed to help temporarily, but we ended up putting diapers on her.  My Mom watched the kids for us one day, and said there was something very wrong with Zoey.  Zoey was usually so excited to see my Mom, she couldn’t get her to quit jumping on her.  That day, she wouldn’t even get up.

My husband took her to the vet again; she suspected a tumor.  She thought she may have had a bleeding event, which caused the drop in her energy.  We could get an MRI to confirm, but the only option was surgery, which would probably only prolong her life for a few weeks.  It was likely cancer.

I was emotionally numb.  I couldn’t watch this dog suffer and die.  I was again praying for a miracle, as I had been for 5 months since my brother’s diagnosis.

Zoey continued to get worse.  My husband took her to another vet.  He took an x-ray and found a large growth (likely a tumor) in her abdomen that was constricting her bladder.  He offered the same option as the other vet.

As Zoey showed more signs of cancer, we made the decision to put her down in December.  She was only 7 years old.  I had counted on her being a part of our family until she was at least 10.  I wasn’t ready for this.  After just losing their closest Uncle, the only one who lived nearby, how would my kids handle losing their favorite dog?  So much death for them in such a short period of time.

My husband bravely took Zoey for her final vet visit.  We had decided we would bury her in the back yard.  He took advantage of the unusually warm weather to dig her grave ahead of time.  I came to the back yard to help him bury her.  The kids joined us to say their final good-byes.  My husband and I had tears streaming down our faces.  My daughter, barely 3 at the time, started kicking in dirt saying, “It’s fun to bury Zoey!”  So much for my worry about how she would handle it.  My son just wanted to go in out of the cold.  The kids went inside.

So, my husband and I said good-bye to Zoey the way we had welcomed her into our lives.  Just the 2 of us.  All of the important things she had been a part of came flooding back.  Our beautiful girl was gone.

For all of the irritation Duke had caused me during the previous year, I was grateful for him during that time.  We missed Zoey, but having another dog in the house eased the pain.  I can’t imagine how much harder it would have been without him.

It’s been 10 months since I lost my brother, and it still feels surreal.  I think about him several times a day, every single day.  I miss him so much.  I miss Zoey, too, but I don’t think about her every day anymore.  While I questioned myself many times for the decision to get another dog, it turned out that this pain-in-the-rear dog probably helped me to keep going.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get another puppy or have two dogs at the same time again, but my bad decision was a good decision after all.

You Can Get a Second Dog, but Should You? Part 1

Zoey the Boxer.

My husband and I got married in 2009.  As I have mentioned many times, I got married when I was 36.  It was the first marriage for both of us.  We both wanted kids, and we knew, at my age, we couldn’t wait.  We got married in August, and had a positive pregnancy test by November.  We were shocked and ecstatic.  The following six weeks were filled with nothing but baby talk.  I remember we were so happy over Christmas, but we were keeping it somewhat quiet, as everyone advises.

We went to a New Years Eve party, and by the end of the party, all of my friends knew (the fact that I drank water all night was a giveaway).  The next day, I had to drive to Des Moines for work.  That’s when the bleeding started.

I still had hope that everything would be okay, as I had read bleeding could be a part of a normal pregnancy.  I completed my work day, drove the three hours home, and hoped for the best.  With it being New Years Day, I knew my doctor’s office would be closed anyway.

As soon as I thought they would be open, I called the doctor’s office on January 2nd.  I was told to go to the hospital for an ultrasound.  We were still hopeful that everything would be okay.  But, it wasn’t.  The baby had stopped developing very early.  A blighted ovum.

Needless to say, we were devastated.  It’s been nearly 8 years, yet I remember the details of the following days so vividly.  Funny how the habit of talking about something takes effect so quickly.  My husband or I would start to say something about the baby, then stop ourselves, because there would be no baby for us this time.

Maybe I’d missed my chance.  Maybe I was too old.  Maybe I would have several miscarriages. What did the future hold?

Life went on for us, but I was having a hard time.  My husband had been bothering me to get a dog for a while.  I kept telling him, “Let’s wait until Spring.  I don’t want to potty train a dog in the Winter.”

Then, I read an article about a woman who had a miscarriage and how getting a dog helped to heal her emotionally.  Maybe I needed something to nurture.

I grew up with boxers; that’s what I pushed for, and that’s what we got.  And, what a beauty she was.  We named her Zoey.  I loved that dog to the point of ridiculous obsession.  And, she did take my mind off of the loss.

Karla_&_Zoey
The cutest puppy in the world, the day we got her.

A few day after we got Zoey, my Grandfather, who was my last grandparent, passed away.  Another loss.  I needed that puppy to take care of, house training in the below freezing Midwest Winter and all.

In March, I had another positive pregnancy test.  Again, we were excited, but this time, the excitement was more apprehensive.  We kept it very quiet, telling only our parents for several weeks.  The twelve week mark came and we saw a heartbeat.  While things could still go wrong, it was much less likely.  We began to feel the joy of anticipating a baby again.  We started planning . . . getting the room ready, buying baby clothes.

We spoiled Zoey rotten.  Her biggest flaw, was not a flaw in some ways.  She just loved people and other dogs so much.  Boxers can be hyper, but she was off the charts.  When we had company, she would get so excited.  I could live with the piddling on the floor, but she would jump on people.  She was expected to get up to 60 lbs., and she was all muscle.  Solid as a rock.

We took her to obedience class, and it helped with letting her know who was in charge.  But, their direction for getting her to stop jumping on people was impractical and not very effective.  We just couldn’t break her of it, so she usually ended up in the crate in our bedroom when company came.  Pure misery for her, hearing people in the house, and not getting to show them her love.  But, what could we do?  We even got some doggy downers from the vet for when guests came, but they didn’t help.  (Her terrible gas was also a problem, but I’ll spare you those details).

She also chewed things up – which all puppies do.  The pregnancy and getting the room ready forced her to give that up, probably earlier than most puppies.  It must have been in our tone.  When she started sniffing around the baby’s things, she got the message that chewing them up was not going to fly.

How would my puppy baby react to a new human baby?  I was concerned.  My son was born about 2 weeks before Zoey’s first birthday.

Zoey's first birthday
Zoey with her princess crown on her first birthday.

When Zoey met my son, about 2 days after he was born, she was very excited and curious.  We were nervous.  She basically just sniffed him and wagged her tail.  Whew.

But, my feelings changed for Zoey, especially during the first few weeks.  My focus was on the new baby.  She became, at best, just a dog.  At worst, a potential threat to my son.  Would she feel the shift and retaliate?

As time went on, I saw what a wonderful dog she was, flaws and all.  We owned some property on a pond, where we planned to build a house.  Once my son was walking, we would go out to the property and let him and Zoey run around.  When my son would start to walk toward the pond, Zoey would place herself between him and the water.  I loved her for that.

We had another child when my son was turning 3 and Zoey was turning 4.  A beautiful little girl.  Babies were old hat to Zoey by this time.  Three months later, we moved into our new home.  We decided it was time to let Zoey have free run of the house, and sleep outside the crate at night if she chose.  I got her a big fluffy bed, and placed it under one of the windows in our bedroom.  But, Zoey decided to sleep in the hallway on the floor, right in the middle of all of the bedrooms, so she could protect us.

Our family felt complete, and Zoey was an important part of it.  My husband’s and my first living creature as a married couple.  My son’s loved and constant companion.

Duke the Goldendoodle – Part 2

 

When Anxiety Takes Over. An Honest Interview.

In my blogging adventures, I have recently had the pleasure of getting to know Busy Bee, a fellow blogger.  Here’s an excerpt from her description of herself from her blog:  “I’m a corporate escapee (but mainly because I love the term!!) who now works part-time in an office job and has two young kids: Princess Sparkles (4) and Captain Destroyer (2). I have a delightful husband (Mr Busy Bee) and a very dumb dog.”

In reviewing some of her articles, I learned that she and I have some things in common.  It seemed our mutual challenges in overcoming anxiety were worth discussing.  Busy Bee has been kind enough to allow me to interview her on the topic.

Have you always suffered from anxiety, or was there a period of your life when it seemed to become more of a problem?

I’ve always been a fairly anxious sort of person, but it was when I was working in law that it became more of a problem. A career in law requires a certain degree of perfectionism so that combined with my fear of what I angst-802639_1920perceived to be failure were a pretty bad combination. I remember driving home from work one day and I was due in court the following day (which always made me anxious) and I had to pull off the road and sit on the side of the road dry retching. I’m sure its glamorous seeing a corporate somebody heaving on the side of the road!

What have you found has helped in handling your anxiety?

I’ve changed my lifestyle (including my career) a lot so I’m not as exposed to high stress situations as I used to be. I certainly still have moments of anxiety, but they tend to be much more short lived, so the career change definitely helped.

I saw a psychologist for a while and she helped with perspective, mainly cognitive behavioural therapy. I’ve also really embraced mindfulness and ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy). These have been a huge help. I’d say life changing.

I think the biggest thing though it that I’ve gotten to know myself and I can see the anxiety when it first starts, so I’m able to catch myself straight away, breathe and adjust my perspective.

What things seem to trigger your anxiety?

If I let myself get too caught up in the magnitude or importance of something, it can spiral pretty quickly. I have to work to keep a helpful perspective.

Is there anything positive you have learned because of your struggle with anxiety?

We’re all human. I’ve learned that I don’t have to be perfect. Apart from the fact that none is perfect, imperfect humans are actually far more lovable and endearing than supposedly perfect people.

As I said before, I’ve gotten to know myself. I’ve learned to be kind to myself.

Please talk a little bit about how your perfectionism feeds your anxiety.

I tend to catastrophise. I’ve always looked at the worst possible outcome if I don’t get something completely perfect. If I don’t manage that my anxiety can creep up on me.

I’ve gotten a lot better at accepting I’m human and we’re all imperfect and that definitely helps.

I read a saying that it’s not a failure if you learn something. It kind of changed my life. Perfection is a perspective. I can choose to see something as not being perfect, or I can see it as me learning and embracing a challenge.

Thank you to Busy Bee for providing honest and helpful answers.  Her blog, Busy Bee – Blogging about creating a simpler, more meaningful life and the battle against busy, is thought provoking, as well as entertaining.  Check it out.  You’ll be glad you did.

 

 

 

Xyster and Other Things I’ve Learned Because of My Kids

As I mentioned in a previous post (A is for Alphabet), my kids and I played an alphabet game, that I created, for a while.  It’s kind of lost its luster.  They were wanting to play it multiple times a day.  Now it might come up once a week.  It was fun while it lasted.  It was a simple game.  We each had to come up with a word that started with each letter of the alphabet.

My daughter played by her own rules.  My son, on the other hand, took it rather seriously.  I found, when we got to “x” we struggled to come up with anything other than xylophone and x-ray.  We usually played this game at bedtime, so I asked my son to remind me to look up some new “x” words the next day.  It took a few days before this actually happened.

I did a search and surprisingly few non-proper, non-hyphenated words came up.  Xyster is the only one that has stuck in my brain.  According to dictionary.com, a xyster is a surgical instrument for scraping bones.  Gross.  I’ve had three back surgeries; two included bone removal.  I wonder if I ever had a xyster used on me.

A free stock photo of a xyster is not easy to find, so if you’re curious, you can see what one looks like here http://buxtonbio.com/index.php?main_page=popup_infoprint&products_id=1886.

I got to thinking, I probably never would have learned this little factoid if I didn’t have kids.  What else have I learned because of my kids?  There’s the stock answer – you never know your capacity to love until you have children.  Everyone says it because it’s true.  There’s also all of the kids’ stuff . . . details about the Isle of Sodor, the names of Doc McStuffin’s toy friends, and that people who write many of these children’s shows must be on drugs (Dinosaur Train comes to mind).

t-rex
From our trip to The Field Museum.

But, I’m thinking about real facts.  At three (maybe even 2) my daughter knew that a triceratops has three horns (I should have known this . . . tri means three, but I had not had the occasion or interest to put a brain cell to it).  She could also look at pictures and tell you which one was a stegosaurus, a t-rex and an apatosaurus.  I did not learn these things until my 40’s.

A little tangent here.  One day, my daughter was making herself a peanut butter sandwich.  When she applied the second piece of bread, she said “This is called adhesion.”  She scares me.  Like I said, she’s three.  I looked at my husband, and asked, “Did you teach her that?”  Laughing and shaking his head, he answered, “No.”  I wondered for a couple days where she heard the word, and how she learned to use it correctly.  Then I saw the episode of Blaze and the Monster Machines with the song about adhesion.  Who says TV’s not an educational babysitter?  Actually, they do some really unrealistic things on that show, but they do have some clever songs.

Okay, so back to things I’ve learned . . . all about sharks.  Do you think a whale shark is a shark or a whale?  I know the answer because I read a book to my kids about it.  I’ll let you look it up.

I now know that soccer balls come in different sizes.  At my son’s request, I looked up where an octopus’ butt is (and it’s not in the same place as his mouth – which is the case for some sea creatures).octopus-428745_1920I think most parents would agree, when your kids are very young they make you feel like a genius.  They’re new.  It seems like you know everything.  As they grow, sometimes, they make you feel incredibly stupid.  Albert Einstein said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t know it well enough.”  Kids ask about everything.  Sometimes, the questions seem simple enough, until I begin to answer.  They can become thought-provoking.  But, I don’t mind feeling stupid.  I don’t have much of an ego anymore.  I subscribe to the idea that we are life long learners (or should be).  I look forward to my kids continuing to show me that I don’t know what I don’t know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Did He Learn This New Word?

Taking a small and worthwhile departure from my series to feature a lovely contribution by Jewel Eliese.

toys-1284070_1920The yellow spot on the light pink sheet is kind of shaped liked like a heart. I try to wipe it away but it remains.

My little girl kicks and giggles. At least she thinks it’s funny.

“Kiddo,” I call to my son while zipping up the baby’s pajamas, “big brother job.”

“Coming,” my four-year-old says, feet padding on the wood floor.

“Did she poop?” He asks eyes wide.

“Yep. Here you go.” I say, handing him the rolled up diaper.

“Blah, gross.” He runs to the garbage and throws it in. The lid swings.

The baby reaches for a forgotten used wipe. I snatch it away.

“Kid, you forgot this.”

He pounds back.

“Here.” He tries to grab the wet wipe but yellow spots cover it. “It’s clean right here.” I show him one white area.

“I won’t do that nasty job.” He says, face scrunched.

I can’t help but laugh and wonder where he learned this new word. With a baby on my hip, I toss the dirty wipe away myself.

I love motherhood.

Jewel Eliese is the mom of a goofy boy and social baby girl. She likes to write a little. You can check her out at Just a Mom Who Writes.

I’m Weird, And So Are You

Sometimes I think I’m weirder than most.  I lived alone, with the exception of a few months here and there, from the ages of 24 to 36. I Stay Weirdthink when you live alone, your “secret single behavior” (remember that Sex and the City episode?) can run amuck.  When I was single, I was starting to think I was weird enough that I could never live with someone.

When I got married, I may have reined in, or at least hidden some of my weirdness.  It didn’t last long though.  I just can’t maintain the facade of being normal.  The unveiling of my weirdness, though, was probably more a result of the realization that my husband is also weird.  My kids are weird, too.  At times, my daughter is off-the-charts, kind of crazy, weird.

I work with Engineers now, and they can be pretty weird.  They call themselves quirky.  I’m pretty sure I detect a sense of pride when they say it.  I guess it would be kind of nice to belong to a profession whichfile5171241735068 accepts and embraces, and partially even defines themselves by their unique oddness.

This white duck in the photo, with the pompadour, is weird.  Is that natural, or did someone attach that to his head?  I like to think it’s natural.  I like him and his pompadour.  He seems to have no concern that he looks weird; I’m sure that he doesn’t even know.  What a luxury that would be.

A couple of people at work have recently commented about my maturity.  After reading thus far, it may surprise you that they were saying I handle situations maturely.  On the deep stuff, I hope that’s true.  As far as the rest of life, I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy.  It serves me well as far as entertaining my son.  If I want to achieve the cherished belly laughs from him, the weirder the better.

So, I have determined that we’re all weird (the people who try to be normal all the time, are especially weird).  That kind of flies in the face of the definition of weird, I suppose.

Orange is the new black.  Forty is the new 30.  Maybe weird is the new normal?

Summer Vacation Overload

I would say our summer activities kind of started in the Spring, with soccer.  Technically, I think it ended right as the school year was ending.  This was the first year my son, 6, was in the big kid group, which had a practice and a game every week.  It was the first year my daughter, 3, played.  Her group basically just played kiddie games with the ball once a week.  It does teach them the basics of moving the ball around, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Soccer
They look kind of exhausted already, and it’s only the first day of soccer.

I’m counting it because it was the beginning of the over-scheduled season that has lasted until now, the beginning of August (and beyond, potentially).  My son was still away at Kindergarten 8 hours a day.  We took him to soccer one night a week, and both kids had soccer on Saturday.

He did learn a lot, and played pretty well, making a goal or two, and stopping a few of the opponent’s.  But, he is an anxiety-ridden kid, like I was.  I think he might actually be worse, which I didn’t think was possible.  He worried that we would be late, that we were at the wrong field, that he should be wearing his purple shirt.  Yikes kid.  We got this.  Then there was the whining . . . about everything, especially while one kid had to sit there while the other kid played.  Good thing I color my hair.  It’s probably all gray now.

Soccer was done – finally.  Hurray.  Then the trips started.  Memorial Day weekend in Chicago was a great trip, visiting things the kids had not seen before, and seeing some of my old friends that I hadn’t seen in years. Great, but busy.  Then we had swimming lessons.  Worthwhile, because they became more comfortable in the water and the teachers and the Director were wonderful people.  There were a couple camping trips and two weeks of a summer camp/school program.  We had a vacation in Chattanooga and Atlanta, a trip

Swimming lessons.
Swimming lessons

to Northern Iowa to see my husband’s relatives, and most recently we went to Adventureland and Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines.

The Field Museum
The Field Museum, Chicago

The positives, my kids got to do and learn a ton and we spent the time together doing many of these things as a family.  There are quite a few negatives too.  We missed church a lot.  We should have found local churches where we were, but we didn’t.  No excuses.  We just didn’t.  We also could have attended Sunday or Wednesday night services, but we didn’t.  I didn’t always read my Bible every day when we were traveling either.  Besides being spiritually depleted, I’m exhausted.  Other than the week I took off for the Chattanooga/Atlanta trip, I continued to work full-time over the summer.  Also, I wonder if I didn’t give my kids enough time to be bored this summer.  Doesn’t boredom breed creativity?

Now, I’m thinking about enrolling my daughter in dance class.  She loves to dance, and she was very enthusiastic about the idea.  It starts the second week of August.  About a week later, she’ll start preschool two mornings a week, and my son will start first grade (boo hoo).  The summer is almost over, and the busyness continues.

To dance, or not to dance?  That is the question.  I pretty much know the answer will be to dance.  My son is already asking what he gets to do if my daughter takes dance class.  I don’t know . . . Karate?  I know . . . let’s all take a nap.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Forget Clean Underwear

write-593333_1920I’m a planner.  Probably to a fault.  I enjoy planning vacations almost as much as I enjoy the trips themselves.  I like searching for hotel rooms, looking for the best price on flights, planning driving routes, researching the area, and envisioning the fun we will have on the trip.

I used to travel overnight for work at least one or two nights a week.  After a few times of not having everything I needed, I bought some duplicate items that I wouldn’t have to keep packing and unpacking, and I developed a checklist.

So, it was only natural that once we started traveling with our son, and now both kids, that I developed a checklist for them.  In fact, it became more necessary, because if you don’t bring your child’s blanky or medication, it can make for a miserable time.

Before I got married, I put a dash next to each item and then I would put a check mark over the dash.  The list was a working document, and would change as circumstances changed.  The dashes would sometimes cause formatting issues.  My husband suggested that I eliminate the dashes and just cross out the item when it was packed.  Doy.  Why didn’t I think of that?

We have taken a lot of trips this summer, long and short, driving and flying.  The list has changed over the years, as the kids’ needs have changed.  Some people aren’t as anal as I am, so probably don’t have a checklist.  But, maybe they could use one!  So, I decided to offer one as a starting point.  I have never attached a document to my blog before, so I hope this works!  I purposely left the list as a Word document, so hopefully you can adjust it to your child’s needs.  If people find this useful, perhaps I will provide the list I use for myself in a later post.  I hope you find this helpful! Travel Checklist For Kids